Weight loss that isn't painful? When you're desperately trying to fit in workouts while avoiding your favorite high-calorie goodies, it can appear that there's nothing painless about it.
While eating healthier and doing more exercise may require some effort, it does not have to be heroic. Making a few modest lifestyle modifications can result in significant weight loss over time.
WebMD spoke with weight loss professionals and regular folks who have discovered a few easy strategies to lose weight and keep it off. Here are their top ideas for losing weight without working out too much.
Best Way To Lose Weight
Add, Don't Subtract
Instead of diet denial, try adding items to your diet rather than subtracting them.
Include nutritious ingredients you enjoy, such as deep-red cherries, luscious grapes, or crisp snow peas. Put your favorite fruits and vegetables in your bag lunches and breakfast cereal; mix them into soups, stews, and sauces.
"Adding in actually works; taking out never does," says registered dietitian David Grotto, RD, LDN, author of 101 Optimal Life Foods, but keeps an eye on total calories. Don't forget to include some physical activity, whether it's a few dance movements before supper, shooting hoops, or going for a quick walk.
Forget About Working Out
If the word "exercise" encourages you to avoid it creatively, then avoid it. Perhaps the key to enjoying a workout is to never refer to it as such.
"There's some truth to that," Grotto tells WebMD, and after you start your not-calling-it-exercise regimen, you'll realize that "the way excellent health feels pulls down the walls that were preventing you from exercising in the first place."
So go beachcombing, riding bikes, lawn skiing, making snow angels, hiking, washing the car, playing Frisbee, chasing the dog around the yard, or even having wonderful sex to burn calories and rejuvenate muscles. After all, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Walking when the weather's nice is a super-easy way to keep fit, says Diane Virginias, a certified nursing assistant from New York. "I enjoy the seasons," she says, adding that even when she's short on time she'll go out for a few minutes. "Even a five minute walk is a five minute walk."
No sidewalks in your neighborhood? Try these tips for slipping in more steps:
Trade your power mower for a push version.
Park your car at the back of the lot.
Get out of the office building and enjoy walking meetings.
Sweep the drive or rake the leaves instead of using a leaf-blower.
Get off the bus a few stops earlier.
Hike the mall, being sure to hit all the levels.
Take the stairs every chance you get.
Sign up for charity walks.
Crank the music and get your heart rate up the next time you mop or vacuum.
It all adds up. If you walk twice a day for 10 minutes and try a few of these tips, you may find yourself with a low-impact, 30-minute workout easily tucked under your belt.
Lighten the Foods You Already Love
Switching to lower-calorie versions of meals you crave is one of the simplest ways to cut back without feeling deprived. A pizza with reduced-fat cheese tastes just as tasty, and when you top low-fat ice cream with your favorite toppings, who notices the extra calories?
While you're cutting fat calories, make sure you're also increasing fiber, advises registered dietitian Elaine Magee, RD, MPH, author of Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Heart Disease and Food Synergy.
While lightening household favorites, you can simply amp up the fiber by adding a cup of whole wheat flour to your pizza dough or tossing a bunch of red bell peppers on the pie.
Don't forget to lighten up the drinks that come with the meal. Replace high-calorie beverages with diet Coke or light beer, or add a spritz of seltzer to your wine.
Do you despise low-calorie beverages? Mix your favorite beverages with a dash of the low-calorie alternative, then gradually increase the ratio as your taste receptors adjust. And, as Magee points out, don't forget to keep pouring the ultimate beverage: water!
Because Hydration Helps -- Really!
Drink some water before a meal, and you won't be as hungry, says David Anthony, an Atlanta-based information technology expert. "Drinking a glass of water before a meal helps me keep track of what I'm eating. I don't eat everything since I'm not hungry."
Magee, who also runs the "Healthy Recipe Doctor" blog for WebMD, adds that keeping no-calorie beverages on hand is a good suggestion for the compulsive snacker "as a method to keep your mouth occupied and less inclined to snack on junk food."
Are you going to a party? Take a low-calorie drink in one hand and hold it there. It not only makes it more difficult to graze at the buffet, but it also makes you less eager to sip endless beverages.
Finally, keeping your body hydrated with plenty of water may benefit your workout, according to Anthony. Staying hydrated implies "I can exercise more and for longer periods of time than if I don't drink water."
Share and Share Alike
With so many American restaurants serving large meals, it's easy to go Dutch — with the dinner plate.
"When we go out," Anthony tells WebMD, "I often have a meal with my wife." "We've shared desserts and even a pint of beer. We don't feel crammed this way, and we save money."
You can do more than just share a dinner out. Why not ride a bicycle designed for two? Cut the expense of a personal trainer in half? Maybe divide the cost of a gym membership?
"When you're trying to eat healthier or get more exercise, you're more likely to succeed if you do it with a partner or group," Grotto adds. "The community, the collaboration, whether online or in person, is quite beneficial."
It's a bargain of a deal to get double the motivation without putting in twice the effort.
Tune In, Tone Up
The American Heart Association understands what we enjoy: television. They are also aware that we need to obtain more exercise. So, they reason, why not combine the two?
Try dancing to the music while watching your favorite music show, or do some stress-relieving cardio boxing while watching your least favorite reality show.
During commercials, ride your stationary bike, stroll on the treadmill, or do bicep curls with cans of your favorite fizzy beverage as weights. Put on a high-energy fitness DVD and get motivated by the pros onscreen to truly focus.
It doesn't matter what you do as long as you're awake and active. The AHA recommends aiming for at least 15 minutes. But who can say? If you are really into it, you might outlive the final survivor.
Eating less without feeling deprived is as simple as changing your dinnerware.
This is because, whereas a tiny piece served on a large plate can leave you wanting more, a smaller plate sends the visual message that you already have enough.
Grotto tells WebMD that when people eat, they "go by physical cues." When we see the bottom of our bowl or plate, we know we've had enough. "A smaller dish with the same amount of food on it just feels more fulfilling than a huge platter with the same amount of food on it."
Don't forget to include smaller dishes, cups, and spoons. Try relishing a bowl of ice cream with a baby spoon, for example. Not only does the pleasure remain longer, but your body has more time to process the food you've consumed.
Get Involved, or at Least Get to the Table
If your weight loss efforts are causing boredom or excessive self-focus, find something else to occupy your time. "If I'm bored," Virginias explains, "I eat more, especially if I'm eating in front of the TV."
So, take a break from the siren's call of the tube and occupy yourself with activities that have nothing to do with food.
For some, this may entail getting engaged in local politics, discovering yoga, or developing an interest in art. Perhaps you'd like to assist a child with a scientific project, renovate the bedroom, or enroll in a class. The trick is to have a life apart from weight loss.
Isn't your schedule already full? At the very least, eat your meals at a table. "The TV is distracting, and I'm just not paying attention to what I'm eating," Virginias says WebMD. "Once I'm seated at a table with a place setting, I'm much more conscious of what I'm eating."
Lose It Today, Keep It Off Tomorrow
Finally, patience is required. While establishing that virtue isn't easy, it may help to know that losing weight generally becomes easier with time.
That's according to the findings of a study published in Obesity Research, in which researchers discovered that for persons who had dropped at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least two years, maintaining that weight reduction needed less work over time.
So, if you want the results described by successful "losers" like these – increased self-confidence, a lift in mood, and greater health – practice patience. You might be able to achieve delicious (and practically painless) weight loss results.
Meal Plan for Weight Loss
Protein- and fiber-rich snacks seem the most effective for weight loss ( 11 , 12 ). Good examples include apple slices with peanut butter, vegetables and hummus, roasted chickpeas, or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts. A successful weight loss meal plan should create a calorie deficit while meeting your nutrient needs.
Fastest Way to Lose Weight
Cut back on refined carbs
Eat protein, fat, and vegetables
Move your body
If 10 tips for painless weight loss (or maintenance) aren't enough, how about trying some of these ideas from WebMD's weight loss community members?
Eat at the same times every day (including snacks). Sure you can't do this all the time, but some people find that knowing when to expect their next meal or snack makes them a lot less likely to graze. Our body appreciates rhythms, from seasons to tides, so why not give it what it craves?
Make only one meal. Instead of making something high-cal for the family and low-cal for yourself, get everyone on the same healthy-eating page. Weight loss and maintenance is easier when everyone's eating the same thing -- and you're not tempted to taste someone else's calorie-dense food.
Remember that little things add up.So keep eating a little fruit here, some veggies there, continue grabbing 10 minute walks between meetings. Weight loss is a journey guided by your unique needs, so hook into what works for you -- and do it!
Reduced appetite and hunger are expected if you limit carbs or replace refined carbs with complex carbs. This eliminates one of the primary reasons why it is often tough to stick to a weight loss regimen. You can eat healthy food until you're full and yet lose a considerable amount of fat if you follow a sustained low carb or reduced calorie eating plan. Within a few days, the initial loss in water weight can lead to a drop in the scales. Fat loss requires more time.